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As the country celebrates the Month of the Ocean (MOO) in May, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu highlighted the role of ocean science as a key to spur relevant behavior change towards the marine environment.

With this year's theme, "The Science We Need for the Ocean We Want," the DENR takes inspiration from the banner message of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) that aims to "strengthen the international cooperation needed to develop the scientific research and innovative technologies that can connect ocean science with the needs of society."

"Through science, we learn about the biodiversity that thrives in our oceans, its functions, potentials, risks, and opportunities. The present state of the ocean, the threats to it, and its proper management are all governed by science," Cimatu said.

Cimatu, who is a staunch advocate of environmental behavior change, acknowledges the significance of a science-based approach to change people’s mindsets for the ocean’s protection and conservation.

"For many years now prior to this global health crisis, our oceans were already under threat. Human action that has resulted in climate change, marine pollution, and loss of marine species forces us to make behavior shifts to reverse the ocean’s declining health," he explained.

The DENR chief noted that scientific knowledge will help understand all these consequences and establish policies to address their impacts.

"The ocean contributes to the air we breathe and the food we eat. It regulates the climate and weather, stores carbon, houses marine biodiversity and provides recreation. As our oceans are under threat now more than ever, it is crucial that we engage on the science of the ocean for us to rethink our ways and save our vibrant seas," he added.

Spearheading this year’s MOO celebration, the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau's (DENR-BMB) Coastal and Marine Division (CMD) has lined up month-long activities and information campaigns to expand awareness on the critical role of scientific information for the protection and conservation of the ocean.

The DENR-BMB kicked off the MOO Online Ocean Jam in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Philippines and Communities Organized for Resource Allocation (CORA) on May 1.

The activity sought to raise conservation awareness through music with talks from speakers on the science and academe sector via Facebook live.

Every Friday, from May 14-28, CORA in partnership with DENR-BMB will host the CORA Ocean School. This aims to impart a deeper understanding on the relationship between the ocean and humans and inspire aspiring ‘planeteers’ to move towards protecting our seas. Registration is free at wearecora.org/ocean-school.

On May 19, CMD’s Coastal and Marine Ecosystem Management Program (CMEMP) will showcase Motions for the Ocean, a show to be performed by DENR’s regional offices dancing to CMEMP’s theme song ‘Agos ng Buhay’ featuring the different flagship species across the regions.

On May 28, DENR-BMB will host Hands-on-ARMS (Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structure) Online Storytelling for Kids to teach the youth on the current scientific research on the ocean climate, ocean acidification, and marine biodiversity.

The Philippines' Month of the Ocean is celebrated annually in May by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 57 signed by then President Joseph Estrada in 1998.

The DENR and the Department of Agriculture through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources spearhead the observance of MOO in collaboration with other sectors. ###